Democrats have seemingly abandoned their immigration crusade, at least for now.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) spoke with NPR about America’s immigration debate this week, and concluded that, despite President Trump’s offers of Democrat-favored amnesty to illegal alien “Dreamers,” the results of this year’s midterm elections will ultimately “decide the fate of this issue.”
Durbin admitted that lawmakers no longer have a sense of urgency on the issue after the March 5 deadline for protecting DACA recipients from deportation was voided by a federal court’s ruling that DACA beneficiaries be allowed to renew their status “while legal challenges play out.”
The senator, who along with Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has pushed amnesty for illegal aliens covered under DACA, insisted that Congress must still act.
“An injunction can be lifted. A court can make a decision saying the president can go forward with abolishing DACA. So the uncertainty, the long-term uncertainty, is still there,” he told NPR host Ari Shapiro.
Durbin rebuked the president for demanding a border wall, tighter border security, and the elimination of chain migration and the visa lottery as conditions for an immigration deal.
“We learned something during the course of this, and it was unsettling. We learned what the president’s real priorities were. The president said, ‘well, let’s help these young people. We need to do something to fix DACA.’
“And yet, given that opportunity, he rejected it. It turned out that this debate was not about a wall. It was about a new immigration policy in America. It was about rejecting the notion that we are a nation of immigrants.”
“[F]or this president to say that for the first time in 90 years he wants to dramatically cut legal immigration in America, that is a complete reversal of the policy of immigration that we’ve had since 1965.”
Durbin’s characterization of the White House as the party unwilling to compromise ignored the fact that President Trump’s offer includes not only legal status, but a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal aliens–nearly three times the number of persons Democrats have asked to shield from deportation.
After being pressed by Shapiro, Durbin acknowledged not having a clear plan for DACA’s resolution, but suggested Democrats would be able to deliver on their promises off amnesty if they retake Congress after the 2018 midterms.
“I don’t know what lies ahead in terms of the midterm elections,” Durbin said. “But I remind all of my friends who feel as I do about this issue, this election, the election of new members to the House and to the Senate, will decide the fate of this issue.”
President Trump has frequently called for action on DACA, even as the issue has fallen out of the news spotlight.